Graeme Souness' uncertain position as Newcastle manager has become increasingly precarious after Scott Parker became the second key player in two days to go under the surgeon's knife.
With the pressure building on Souness, the last thing the Scot needed was for Parker to follow Michael Owen into the operating theatre, but so it has turned out.
The England midfielder will be on the sidelines for three to five weeks, and Owen for 10 weeks with a broken metatarsal, while several other first-team players are also missing.
Souness told: 'Scott went to see a specialist in London and it was felt he may have a damaged cartilage so it was best to have the operation done sooner rather than later.
'It's another blow for the club and the player, but these are the cards we have been dealt, and we have to stick together and get on with things.
'It's a shame for Scott because he has been our best player this season and to lose him is a blow for everyone concerned.'
As for Souness himself, his side need to avoid any sort of embarrassment against Mansfield in the FA Cup if he is to ride out the storm.
Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd is understood to be considering his options, with Bolton boss Sam Allardyce favourite to take over should Souness get the bullet.
Souness can certainly feel hard done by in terms of injuries with Shola Ameobi, Emre, Kieron Dyer, Steven Taylor, Stephen Carr and Craig Moore all missing while Lee Bowyer still has two games of a suspension left to serve.
But it is Owen's and Parker's absences that will really worry him.
Parker was the kind of player Souness felt Newcastle really lacked and he was delighted to secure his services from Chelsea in the summer - despite Wigan offering more for the player.
The midfielder injured his right knee in the 4-2 win at West Ham on December 17 and though he played in the defeat at Tottenham the problem has got worse and he had surgery in London today.
Newcastle said in a statement: 'Scott Parker will go into a London hospital on Wednesday afternoon for a minor operation and is expected to be absent for between three and five weeks.'